NZ egg distributor sentenced for selling 3 million cage eggs as ‘free-range’July 22nd, 2020
A New Zealand egg distributor who sold 3 million cage eggs as free-range eggs was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention yesterday. While it’s encouraging to see Mr Chen being held accountable for his actions, this isn’t the first time someone has sold cage eggs as free-range eggs, and it probably won’t be the last.
It’s impossible to tell the difference between cage and free-range eggs, so Kiwis are relying on the honesty of egg producers and suppliers, some of whom clearly cannot be trusted
The New Zealand Egg Producers Federation (NZEPF) offers Kiwis a murky view into the egg industry. It introduced the deeply flawed ‘Trace My Egg’ initiative as a response to fraudulent cases such as these. The scheme is entirely voluntary, meaning egg producers can choose to ignore it without penalty.
A video on NZEPF’s website promotes cruel colony cages. It states that “Hens like to cluster together, even if more space is available,” and “Having more space than they need is not necessarily an advantage to a hen.” The sad reality is that in colony cages, each hen only gets as little space as that of an A4 piece of paper in which to live her entire life.
If it weren’t for a whistleblower, Mr Chen could well have continued to sell cage eggs as free-range indefinitely. This highlights that there are no processes in place to prevent this kind of fraudulent behaviour. With so little transparency or accountability within the egg industry, it’s clear the only way to avoid a repeat of this fraud is to ban the practice of caging of hens altogether.
Around the world, progressive politicians are banning the caging of hens, and it’s time for New Zealand to do the same. In 2014, the Labour Party committed to banning the caging of hens across New Zealand if elected. The Green Party’s current policy is to phase out intensive farming, which includes the caging of hens.
Nearly 3 million hens are waiting to be freed from cages in New Zealand. It’s up to our politicians to put the chicken before the egg industry by enforcing a legal ban on all cages.